John’s Witness to the Christ

December 25, 2016 ()

Bible Text: John 1:19-34 |

Series:

John’s Witness to the Christ | John 1:6-9; 19-34
Brian Hedges | December 25, 2016

Good morning. Thank you, worship team. Merry Christmas! So, I want you to know, I can sincerely say, there’s no place I’d rather this morning than right here with you. Than right here worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s a privilege to be with church family this morning. We celebrated our Christmas as our family yesterday and we’re headed for Texas as soon as the service is over today. So, we have a long trip ahead of us, but we’re glad not to be missing church this morning, but to be worshiping with you.

Last week, we began a study of the gospel of John. And as you know, the gospel of John is unique among the gospels. It’s interesting that Matthew and Luke give us the birth narratives of Jesus. The gospel of Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism and right on the scene, into his ministry.
The gospel of John is different than any of the others. There’s no birth narrative and yet the opening prologue to the gospel of John is all about the incarnation. And those who’ve studied the gospel of John closely have noticed that those first 18 verses are actually setting the trajectory for the rest of the gospel. So that in the gospel of John, we see the mystery of the incarnation, penetrated into more deeply, perhaps than any other place in the scripture.

This morning, I want to continue with our study of John’s gospel by looking at the next paragraph in the gospel of John. We’re going to focus our attention this morning on John the Baptist’s witness to the Christ. And I think as you’ll see this morning that the things that, both John the evangelist, in writing about the Baptist, and the things that John the Baptist, himself, says about the Christ, parallel very close with the images and motifs and the themes that we’ve been singing about this morning in these Christmas hymns and in our worship.

So, let’s turn in the text, John 1. I want to read verses 6-9, which introduces us to John the Baptist. And then read verses 19-34.

John 1:6-9: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:19-34: And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

This is God’s Word.

So, I just want to briefly point out three images or pictures of the Christ that we see in this witness from John the Baptist, and in what John the evangelist says about the Christ. And I think in seeing these three things, we’ll see at the same time, three aspects of our need for Christ. We will see three dimensions to the incarnation or three dimensions to the Christmas story. Three reasons why the Christmas story is necessary and is needed. Why the incarnation was necessary. Or three aspects of our salvation.

So, here’s the first:

I. Christ is the Light – v. 6-9

Christ is the light. And maybe you noticed as we were singing this morning, how frequently that theme was coming up in our worship.

And you see it in verses 6-9: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

Now, the light of course, refers back to the opening verses concerning the word, verses 1-3, and then especially verses 4-5, “In Him that is in the word, was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Now, it’s interesting that everyone who celebrates Christmas in any way, does so with light. I mean, you think about lights decorating our Christmas trees. Maybe you’ve noticed, just as we have, the beautiful lights around University Park Mall and Mishawaka this year. Just absolutely gorgeous.

About a month ago, or a little less than a month ago, our family went to Chicago for a day and a part of an evening. We were enjoying the lights on Michigan Avenue. It’s one of the best parts of Christmas, isn’t it? It’s the lights! And even a secular person, who doesn’t believe in the story of the incarnation, enjoys the light.

But, sometimes we miss the significance of the light. The incarnation, and John the evangelist in telling us about the incarnation, using this light motif, is telling us that the reason why Christ had to come, is because of the darkness of the world. We needed an intervention. We needed something from the outside to come and give us light.

Now some people have thought that these verses are describing the light of reason, or the light of natural revelation. But, I think it’s much better to understand this as the light of salvation. How Christ brings the light of salvation into the moral darkness, the wickedness and evil of the world. And notice that it’s a light that has to come from the outside.

Now, most people today, if they’re not Christians, and sometimes even Christians begin to pick up language, thinking of it in this way--we talk about light coming from within us. But, when you look at John’s full portrait of darkness and light in the gospel of John, it becomes very clear that there’s no light within us. The problem is that there’s darkness within us. The world is in darkness and the darkness is inside of us and we need something from the outside. We need the light to come. And this light, of course, is Jesus Christ.

So, this follows the use of light imagery in the Old Testament and in the other gospels. Wes just read a few moments ago from Isaiah 9. And in that chapter in verse 2, there’s this prophetic word that is picked up by Matthew in his gospel (Matthew 4), Isaiah says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”

That’s the background here. It’s this portrayal of the world, and even of the people of God there in Isaiah 8 and 9, who have turned away from the Lord. And they’ve actually turned to magicians and sorcerers. They’ve turned to necromancers. They’ve turned to all kinds of evil and they live in darkness and in deep gloom and the prophets says that these people who’ve walked in darkness, will see a great light. And that light, of course, was Jesus Christ.

Now this confronts us with our need. It confronts us with the darkness of the world and the darkness of our own heart. We see this especially in John 3:19-21, where this language is used again:

John says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

That’s our problem. That’s the human problem. There’s a perversity in our hearts. There’s a darkness in our hearts. There’s a love for darkness in our hearts. There’s something within us that is inclined to evil. Have you ever noticed how all kinds of situations can bring out the very worst aspects of your character. That’s the darkness in our hearts—our proneness to gossip. Our proneness to greed. Our proneness to covetousness, or our proneness to envy. The inclinations towards lust. These things in us that gravitate towards darkness.

And John is saying that our hearts love darkness rather than light. But, the good news is that the light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it.

Have you ever been in a totally dark room? Pitch black—totally dark? Maybe during an electrical storm where all the lights are out. There’s cloud cover in the sky so there’s no light from the moon or from the stars. There’s no street lights. You have no light at all, it’s just pitch black and then you just light one candle. And all of a sudden, light begins to reveal what’s going on in the room. And you light several candles, or you put on a flashlight or something like that and the light overcomes the darkness.

Darkness can’t overcome light. I mean, the very essence of darkness is just absence of light. And as soon as the light is there, the light overcomes the darkness. I think that’s what John is telling us.

John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Then you have similar words in John 12: 35-36a, Jesus says, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

The Apostle Paul will pick up on that theme in his epistles. And there’s a place where he said, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

The light has come. We were in darkness. There’s darkness in us. The light has come. And now if we will respond to the light, we will become sons of light.

I was just reading yesterday, in Lewis’ Narnian adventure, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. You may remember that there’s a place in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where these children and the Narnians are on the boat called, “The Dawn Treader.” They’re sailing and they come across a place called “The Dark Island.” And Lewis says it was like looking into a train tunnel, except there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

You could see the train tracks and then they’re in shadow, and then just total darkness. And they’re sailing into this darkness and as they’re sailing into the darkness, they come across a man who is in the water, swimming towards them. They pull him out of the water. The man looks very old with a mop of white hair, a thin drawn face, but it says that “what one would mainly notice were his eyes, which were so widely open that he seemed to have no eyelids at all, and he stared as if in agony of pure fear.”

And he begins to tell them what the dark island was. He says, “It’s the island where all your dreams come true.” Initially, the people are like, “If all our dreams come true, let’s go there! You know, maybe I’ll be married to Nancy and maybe I’ll see my friend again!” And they’re thinking this way. And he says, “No, not your daydreams. I’m talking about your dreams.” In other words, their nightmares come true.

And this man is absolutely terrified. And there they are in the darkness, there seems to be no way out. Though, they’re sailing back, they can’t seem to escape it. And so finally, little Lucy prays. She leans her head on the edge of the fighting-top of the boat and whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”

And Lewis says, “The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better . . . There was a tiny speck of light ahead, and while they watched a broad beam of light fell from it upon the ship. It did not alter the surrounding darkness, but the whole ship was lit up as if by searchlight . . . Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aero-plane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross.”

And Lewis scholars tell us that this was, I think, a medieval image or picture of Christ. So, Lewis is weaving these things together in the story. And an albatross comes and then leads the ship out of the darkness into the light, and Lucy hears a voice that she knows is the voice of Aslan saying, “Courage, dear heart.”

And then it’s like she’s woke from a terrible dream and it’s wonderfully described. Lewis says it’s like, when you wake and you hear something going on. You hear, you know the postman outside or something like that. And you suddenly realize that all the terrible things you had dreamed, they are not true. And that moment of relief, have you ever had that? I’ve certainly had that when I’ve had terrible nightmares. And he said that’s what it was like. That was the feeling on the ship when they came out of darkness.

That’s what the gospel is for us, friend. That’s what the incarnation does. That’s what Christmas does. It means that all the darkness that is in the world, this nightmare that it seems like our lives are, or that the world is—that’s not the end of the story. The light has come. We are waking out of the sleep, out of the slumber of sin, out of the darkness of night. The light has come and we are children of the day. We are children of light.

One more verse. John 12:46, Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Do you believe in Christ, the light, this morning? You can! You should. I hope you will if you don’t. That’s the first image. Christ is the Light.

Here’s the second:

II. Christ is the Lord – v. 19-24

Christ is not only the light, He is the Lord. You see this in verses 19-24. The religious leaders in Jerusalem send a delegation to John the Baptist. And they’re asking, “Who is he?” “Who are you, John? Are you Elijah?” There was a belief that Elijah would come again in some kind of way to herald the Messiah. “Are you the Prophet?” There was a belief that a final prophet, a prophet like Moses would come and kind of be this embodiment, the perfect prophet. John denies that he is literally Elijah or that he is this messianic final prophet. They ask him, who then is he?

And notice what he says in verse 23. He says, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” And the background to this of course, is Isaiah 40. A wonderful passage that most of us know perhaps from Handel’s Messiah, especially.

It begins with those great words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says the Lord.” And then in Isaiah 40: 3-5, we read these words,

“A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

And then notice in verse 9 it says,

“Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

Now here’s the situation that Isaiah is writing about. He’s writing about God’s people in exile. They’re in exile. That means that they are banished from their homeland. They’ve been scattered. Remember the Babylonian exile? They were scattered. They were carried off to Babylon, so they’re away from their homeland and the idea is this. That here are these exiles who want to go home. But to get there, there’s all kinds of obstacles. They’ve got to travel through a desert. They’ve got to travel through a wilderness. There’s these valleys to travel through that are low. And there are mountains that are high. There’s no road through the wilderness.

And Isaiah is saying that much like Moses led the people of God through the wilderness in the first exodus, so there’s gonna be second exodus where God himself, Yahweh himself will come and make a road through the desert to lead the exiles back to their city, Zion or Jerusalem. That’s the picture. That’s the historical situation of Israel.

(1) The need: rescue from exile

But, it pictures something for us as well. Just as light in the darkness gives us a metaphor or a picture for understanding the meaning of the incarnation, so rescue from exile is also a picture. We need rescue! We need deliverance from our own exile.

J. R. R. Tolkien, who is that great author of The Lord of the Rings, in one of his letters, made this comment. He said, “We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature … is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’.

We’re all banished from our true home. We long for Eden. We are soaked with exile. There’s this sense that we are not in our homeland. We’ve lost something. We’re cut off from the outside, rather than on the inside—that’s the picture. Just like these exiles.

(2) The promise: Rescue by God himself

And what I want you to see here is that Isaiah prophesied that Yahweh himself would come to lead the people of God through the wilderness back to their city, back to their homeland. And when John the Baptist comes on the scene and the people are asking him, “Who are you?,” he says, “I’m the voice in the wilderness, saying ‘Prepare the way for the Lord.’”

Prepare the way of the Lord! For Yahweh. But, who is it that comes on the scene? It’s Jesus. Do you know what this is telling us? It’s telling us, in different kinds of words, that Jesus is Yahweh in the flesh. It’s the same thing as we saw last week. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory.” Wasn’t that was Isaiah just said? The Lord is gonna come and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it.

Well, John the Baptist was testifying to that. He was witnessing to that. He was saying, “I’m the voice in the wilderness and the Lord himself is coming and he comes in the person of Jesus Christ.” In the person of Jesus Christ, God became man and the word became flesh and the glory of the Lord was revealed.

I was reading this week some sermons from Robert Murray M’Cheyne. He’s a Scottish pastor that I’ve enjoyed reading the last couple of years. I’m almost finished, I’ve got like 25 pages left in the collection of all his letters and diaries and so on. And I was reading a sermon and I came across this wonderful quotation on the incarnation.

M’Cheyne said, “The Word was made flesh.” Christ did not get more glory by becoming man, but He manifested His glory in a new way. He did not gain one perfection more by becoming man; He had all the perfections of God before. But now these perfections were poured through a human heart. The almightiness of God now moved in a human arm. The infinite love of God now beat in a human heart. The compassion of God to sinners now glistened in a human eye. God was love before, but Christ was love covered over with flesh. (M’Cheyne, Memoirs & Remains, p. 471)

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory. Glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The glory of the Lord shall be revealed! How was he revealed? How was the glory of Yahweh, the God of Israel revealed? In Jesus of Nazareth. The Word became flesh.

Christ is not only the light. Christ is the Lord! God Himself. “Veiled in flesh, the God-head see. Hail incarnate Deity.” Christ is the light. Christ is the Lord. And finally, Christ is the Lamb.

III. Christ is the Lamb of God - v. 29

You see it in verse 29 and it’s repeated again a few verses later.

John 1:29: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Now scholars tell us that this would have been startling to the original audience. We’re used to thinking of Christ as the Lamb because we have the full New Testament mediation and reflection on these images. But, it would have been somewhat startling to the original hearers. And this phrase, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and the idea here is not so much the sin bearer who bears sins, the verb there, “take away” means to remove. And the best scholars seem to think that it’s the idea of the warrior lamb that was spoken of in Jewish apocalyptic literature who would come and sweep the land clean, removing sin in judgment. And that seems to be the image that John the Baptist has in mind. Which shows why he was so confused later, in the ministry of Jesus.

But, in the full light of the revelation of scripture, John’s words, of course, suggest all of the nuances, all the shades of meaning that go with this wonderful image, the Lamb of God, so John was saying more than he himself would have understood.

So, for our last few minutes, I want to just think with you about some of these characteristics of Christ as the Lamb of God as portrayed in scripture.

(1) Spotless Lamb

You can think of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1: 18-19, where he calls Christ the spotless Lamb:

1 Peter 1: 18-19, “The Lamb without blemish or spot through whose precious blood we’ve been redeemed.”

He’s a spotless lamb. One poet put it this way,

Jesus Christ, our Lord most holy,
Lamb of God, so pure and lowly,
Blameless, blameless on the cross art offered,
Sinless, sinless, for our sins hath suffered.

You know that in the Old Testament, no one could offer a lamb with a broken leg? No one could offer a lamb that was diseased in any way. The lamb had to be spotless, it had to be pure. And in a shadowy way, it was foretelling the purity and the spotlessness, the sinlessness of Christ as the spotless lamb of God, because only through a sinless offering could we be redeemed.

(2) Silent Lamb

Or you might think of Isaiah 53, which gives us that wonderful, beautiful heart-piercing portrayal of the servant of the Lord. He’s despised and rejected by men and he’s compared to a Lamb, in verse 7.

“He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

And there we see the silence, the meekness, the humility of Christ the Lamb. Remember how he was accused by the priest, he was accused by Pilate and he doesn’t answer a word. Do you know why? Because he is voluntarily, resolutely following this road to the cross. Giving himself as a voluntary offering for us.

(3) Substitutionary Lamb

Or take the story of the Passover. Remember that story in Exodus 12? The final plague of Egypt was the death of the firstborn. And this angel of death would come through the land slaying the firstborn of every household—Jew and Egyptian—unless, unless a lamb is slaughtered. The Passover lamb. Unless the lamb is slaughtered and it’s blood is smeared on the doors of the people. But, if the blood is smeared on those doors, the doorposts and the lintel of these households, then when the angel passes through, he’ll see the blood and he’ll pass over.

And again, the New Testament picks up this theme in 1 Corinthians 5:7 where Paul says that “Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” He is our Passover Lamb! That means that he is the substitute. He is the lamb whose sacrifice on our behalf so that God sees the blood and passes over us.

And here’s the final nuance in this picture of the lamb. And you get it in the book of Revelation, of all places. Did you know that in the book of Revelation, Christ is called or compared to a lamb, some 28 times! 28 out of the 32 times that lamb language is used of Jesus, is in Revelation.

So, for example, in Revelation 5:12-13, we read these words:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

You remember in that vision, John had heard someone say, “Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” And then he looked on the throne and he didn’t see a lion at all. He saw a lamb. This was the surprise! This was the mystery of the gospel revealed—that the lion, the conqueror, the king, the Messiah that God’s people expected, came in the weakness of a lamb who is led to the slaughter. A king who is crucified for the sins of others.

And that’s why the whole church of God and all creation sings here, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Or then when you get into Revelation 7:10, a great multitude of people are gathered before the Lamb--a people from every nation and kindred and people and tongue. They’re clothed with white robes. Robes that are made white in the blood of the Lamb. And they have palms in their hands, palms of victory, crying with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb.” So, this is the enthroned Lamb, or the supreme Lamb, the worthy Lamb. The Lamb who is worthy of all worship. And this is just a thread that runs all the way through this book.

In Revelation 13:8, the record book of heaven is called the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain. In chapter 15, they sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. We get to chapter 19, we read about the marriage supper of the Lamb. And then in Revelation 21:22-23, John says,

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

I mean, the images are starting to be combined, aren’t they? The lamp, the light of heaven is the Lamb of God. And then finally,

Revelation 22:1-5: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.”

(This is Eden language.)

“The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

This is just amazing! Do you see this? They are being restored to Eden. They exile is over. The light of the Lamb shines! There’s no night anymore. The darkness has ended. And how is it all happening? It’s happening through the Lamb. This Lamb who has been slain and is now worthy to receive all praise.

Did you know that at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the very last chapter, when the children and their companions are sailing to the end of the world and then it ends at Aslan’s country. They get off the boat and there’s a little grassy knoll and a lamb invites them to come eat breakfast. I think Lewis is recalling John 21, where Jesus invites the disciples off the boat, onto the shore to eat breakfast. And a lamb invites them to come and this is the way it reads,

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?” “Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.” “What!” said Edmund. “Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?” “There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

Friends, there’s a way into Aslan’s country, for you and I. I mean, what Lewis really meant for Aslan’s country, there’s a way. What is that way? Listen to what John says, “Behold the Lamb of God! Who takes away the sin of the world.”

Behold the Lamb. That’s the message of Christmas. See the light. See the Lord who is coming in the wilderness to make a way for his people home. And behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

One more story, and then I’m done. On Oct 7, 1857, Charles H. Spurgeon was to preach at the massive Crystal Palace in London, England for the day of National Humiliation and Prayer. And several days prior to the service, Spurgeon went into the Crystal Palace to test the acoustics. I mean, this is before they had sound systems, right? So, he went to test the acoustics. And he thought he was alone and he was there in the middle of the Crystal Palace and he bellowed out, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!”

Little did he know that there was a janitor busy in one of the galleries. And that janitor heard Spurgeon cry out this phrase. And that night he was saved, he was converted. Spurgeon found out about it later. What was it that saved him? Beholding the Lamb of God.

So, this morning, friends, as we celebrate the incarnation of Christ, we are celebrating the light that has come into the world, to rid our world of darkness. We are celebrating the Lord himself who has come to make a way for the captives, the exiles through the wilderness all the way home. And we’re coming to celebrate the Lamb of God, who at the cost of his own life, takes away the sin of the world.

And that’s what we celebrate when we come to the table. Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. When we come to the table, the table is in many ways, a continuation with changes. A Christianized version of the Passover feast. And just as the people of God in the Old Testament celebrated the Passover feast, remembering how God had redeemed them out of Egypt, so you and I come, and we celebrate this feast. The Lord’s Table. The bread, the juice—we celebrate our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, who has been sacrificed for us so that God can pass over our sins and redeem us and give us all these gracious blessings we’ve described this morning.

Let’s pray to prepare our hearts as we go to the table of the Lord.

Gracious Father, how we thank You for Your mercy, for Your grace. How we thank You for the mystery and the wonder and the beauty of the incarnation of Christ. We thank You that He is the Light of the world who has shown into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Thank You that He is the Lord who rescues us from our exile and sin and leads us back home. Back to the garden. And we thank You that He is the Lamb of God who deals with our sins once and for all. And we declare this morning, worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive all of our praise, all of our worship. All honor and blessing from us.

As we come to the table now, would You by Your Spirit, draw near to us? Would You help us as we feed on the bread and on the juice? Would You help us by faith, to feed on the broken body and the poured out blood of our Savior, the Lord Jesus? Would You give us fresh strength and fresh hope? Would You help us taste and see that the gospel is good and real and true? A may this message burn deeply in our hearts, so that, like John, who did not point people to himself, but instead pointed people to Christ. Would the message of the incarnation burn so deeply in our hearts that we would not call attention to ourselves but that we would be witnesses to the Christ? And that in this season and in all seasons, we would point people to Jesus the Christ, who is the light of the world. Who is the Lord Himself. Who is the Lamb of God.

Draw near to us now we pray, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.